Jewish Public Library announces programming

The Jewish Public Library announces its Spring 2019 Cultural Programmes calendar, with highlights including world-class authors Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Michael Ondaatje, Montreal film premieres of Israeli documentary Desert Wounds and Slovakian Academy Award entry The Interpreter, and a special collaboration with Bloomsday Montreal on Jews in Irish literature.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

All JPL events start at 7:30 pm (unless otherwise indicated) and take place at the Jewish Public Library, 5151 Côte-Ste-Catherine Rd in Montreal. Information and ticket purchase: (514)345-6416 or .

 Here is the line-up by month:


March 27    The Prince and the Dybbuk       

Film in English Italian, Spanish, Polish and German with English subtitles. 

Directed by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski (Poland/Germany, 2017, 82 min)

The film explores the life of cinematic enigma Moshe Waks, the son of a poor Jewish  blacksmith                       from Ukraine who died as Prince Michael Waszynski in Italy, after having made over 40 films as a                       director and producer during Hollywood’s golden era.


April 3         Desert Wounds

                   Montreal film premiere, in English and Hebrew with English subtitles

Directed by Nili Dotan (Israel, 2018, 59 min)

Montreal premiere of an award-winning documentary that follows the journeys of two Christian                       women from Sudan and Eritrea fleeing war, dictatorship, and religious persecution to seek   asylum in Israel. Introduced by director Nili Dotan, followed by a panel discussion with Nili               Dotan, Irwin Cotler OC, David Berger and Zoë Freedman.

April 10       Simon et Théodore

                      Film in French with English subtitles

Directed by Mikael Buch (France, 2017, 84 min)

Simon is a troubled young man; Theodore is a difficult adolescent. A chance encounter      between the two sparks a dramatic clash and ultimately heals wounds. A tough and tender    film about mental illness and love, and how to live with both.

April 15       Mary Morris: Gateway to the Moon

                      Author event             

New York Times bestselling author Mary Morris speaks about her novel, a multi-generational                       family saga in which she traces her family’s history from the Spanish Inquisition to modern-day           New Mexico.

April 18       ‘Books & Booze’ with Bethany Ball & Spencer Wise

                      Author event             

Our ‘Books & Booze’ series presents a lively discussion with two young American authors.     Ball’s What to do about the Solomons explores the secrets and gossip-filled lives of a kibbutz community.        Wise’s The Emperor of Shoes tells the story of a young Jewish American expat who       assumes the helm of his family’s shoe factory in China and his relationship with a seamstress   intent on inspiring dramatic political change.


May 2          The Interpreter

                      Montreal film premiere, in German and Slovak with English subtitles

Directed by Martin Šulík (Slovak Republic, Czech Republic, Austria, 2018, 114 min)

A bittersweet tragicomedy about two old men who depart on a road trip, weighed down by                       unresolved conflicts that have plagued their lives. The film was Slovakia’s 2019 Academy Award          entry. Presented in collaboration with the Montreal Holocaust Museum.

May 5          Orly Castel-Bloom: An Egyptian Novel

*7 pm          Author event in Hebrew

Israeli author Orly Castel-Bloom blends faction and fiction in this unconventional telling of her             family’s migration from Egypt to Israel, expulsion from a kibbutz and life in modern-day Tel Aviv.               Castel-Bloom is thrice winner of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Award.

May 6          Denise Bombardier: “Une vie sans peur et sans regret”

 Author interview with journalist Elias Levy, in French            

Prominent Quebec journalist, novelist and essayist, Denise Bombardier will discuss her life   and decades-long career. In collaboration with the Cummings Centre.

May 13       Ayaan Hirsi Ali: “Islam, Muslims and National Security”

                      Author event                             

The controversial human rights activist, former politician and author of Infidel states that it is       important to understand the distinction between Islam, a set of ideas and principles, and      Muslims, the diverse individuals that constitute one fifth of humanity. In recent decades         Muslims have, at one point or another, been discussed as a threat to national security. Hirsi Ali          will give her perspective on this incredibly thorny topic.

May 16       Georgia Hunter: We Were the Lucky Ones

                      Author event                             

When New York Times bestselling author Georgia Hunter was 15 years old, she discovered    that she came from a family of Holocaust survivors. We Were the Lucky Ones follows her                family as they scatter across continents, determined to survive and to reunite. Her book          has been translated into 13 languages.

May 23       Yiddish Café

                      Music and storytelling event

Our annual evening of stories and songs in Yiddish and English by a group of talented      Montrealers  honouring Yiddish author and playwright Sholem Aleichem’s wish for his name to            be recalled with laughter”. The musical Fiddler on the Roof was based on the stories of   Sholem Aleichem, known as the “Jewish Mark Twain”.

May 30       Pól Ó Dochartaigh: “Hyphenated Identities: Irish-Jewish Autobiographies”

                      Lecture and exhibition in collaboration with Bloomsday Montreal

 Irish scholar Pól Ó Dochartaigh explores questions of identity, Irish and Jewish, through six    twentieth-century autobiographies by Irish Jews. The touring exhibition Representations of             Jews in Irish Literature will be presented in the main lobby of the Federation CJA  building (just          outside  the entrance to the Jewish Public Library) from May 27 to June 17, 2019.


June 11       Michael Ondaatje: Warlight

Michael Ondaatje

                      Author event

One of Canada’s most renowned living authors, Michael Ondaatje will be in conversation      with Joseph Rosen about his mesmerizing new novel, set in the decade after World War II. Ondaatje’s previous work has been awarded the Booker Prize, the Golden Man Booker Prize, the    Giller Prize, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize and the Prix Médicis.

And our courses, workshops and literary clubs:

Yiddish for Beginners: starts March 26

Intermediate Yiddish:  starts March 26

Advanced Yiddish:  starts March 25

Russian for Beginners: starts March 7

American Sign Language: starts March 4

Genre Writing Workshops with author Michelle Franklin:  starts March 6

Jewish Genealogical Society Lecture Meetings: March 11, April 1, May 6, June 3, Aug 12

Sunday Morning Family Tree Workshops (Jewish Genealogical Society):   March 3, April 14, May 12, June 2, Sept. 8

Russian Literary Club: Sunday March 17, April 28 and May 19

Hebrew Literary Club: on Tuesdays

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